We're already getting ready to plan our spring adventures, but that's no reason not to get outside on the regular in the last weeks of winter. Here are five favorite wintertime hikes near Portland, great for locals and out-of-towners alike.
When winter conditions are just right, Tomlike Mountain boasts some of the finest views in the Gorge. Begin from the Wahtum Lake trailhead and head northeast to climb Wooly Horn Ridge, a broad prominence that makes for a great destination on its own. On a clear day, views from Mt. Rainier to Mt. Jefferson are possible.
Insider Tip: Snow is common in the higher reaches of the Gorge in the winter, so be ready to hike in it, but the exposed Wooly Horn Ridge melts out quickly, making for a stellar winter view.
The Wilson River Trail is located on the western slope of the Oregon Coast Range, east of Tillamook, and runs 22.5 miles from the Elk Creek Trailhead to the Keenig Creek Trailhead. If that seems like a daunting mileage, don't be alarmed: there are four trailheads along the way that make the hike much more manageable in a day. Follow the Wilson River as it winds through the lush and rugged Coast Range forests and keep an eye out for elk, which frequent the area.
Inside Tip: The trail was originally more of a gathering of fishing trails, so there are numerous options to fish for spring steelhead along the way.
This is a go-to hike in the city that boasts views and some pretty decent tree cover during the rainy Pacific Northwest winter. Start at the Springville Trailhead off of Skyline Blvd, follow Firelane 7 to the Ridge Trail and drop all the way down to Leif Erickson Drive. There are numerous maps along Leif Erickson and the Wildowood Trail that will give you the option of creating a loop hike.
Inside Tip: Near the base of the Ridge Trail, near Hwy 30, one of the best views of the St John's Bridge rest between giant maples. Bring your boots, this one gets muddy.
One of the closest stands of old growth rainforest to Portland, this 7.8 mile out-and-back hike starts by following the Salmon River just south of Welches, near Mt. Hood. Breathtaking stands of old growth Douglas-fir tower above you as the trail climbs along the river. After the first mile and a half, the trail climbs steeply to some viewpoints of the Salmon River Canyon and a few waterfalls.
Inside Tip: Once the trail leaves the riverside, icy conditions can make for dangerous hiking. Be sure to bring the MicroSprikes, or enjoy the views of the river and return the way you came.
When Eagle Creek gets crowded, Herman Creek makes a dandy substitute for those seeking outdoor solitude. The trail climbs out of the Herman Creek Campground and away from the highway, though not very close to Herman Creek. In fact, there are very few views of the creek. The real draw here is the numerous mossy creek crossings you'll encounter that take on a mystical feel when the creeks are really flowing. They're not very big, so you won't have to worry too much about safely crossing.
Inside Tip: There are as many creeks as you're willing to hike to. You can make this a 10-mile hike, depending on how far you want to go!
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.